tv Book Discussion on The Pentagons Brain CSPAN October 10, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
conversations [inaudible conversations] there should be a couple of seats grab them if you can. welcome to the exam. i'm the historian and curator and i would like to welcome you to a author program. we appreciate you coming out tonight. we are pleased to have the investigative journalist and best-selling author that national security and government secrecy not to mention intelligence. her 2011 nonfiction bestseller of america's top secret military base has been published in five languages as have the 2014 nonfiction bestseller operation paperclip that intelligence program that brought nazi
scientists to america. they chose operation paperclip is one of the best of 2014. the newest book, the pentagon brain america's top agency was published on tuesday. after reading i'm sure it won't take long before they joined the other bestseller. >> tesco is the folly of okay. one thing that we always want to do when we have the authors here especially considering they had to write about a field that is not necessarily the most conducive information and
documents. the idea is about writing about this and how in the world to find the sources necessary to write the full sized book. they don't necessarily want historians to know about. >> guest: for starters i want to think some thank some of the forces. thank you for coming and those of you in the back thank you. the way that i got the idea for writing the pentagon's brain came as most of my books do on the tail end of the last book and when i was learning about 58 i was surprised to learn he was going to be the first director of the new agency at the pentagon and we have one stipulation that we wanted to bring 12 former colleagues with him and that didn't fly at the
pentagon because they looked elsewhere for the director but what a spicy way to start out an agency with controversy and secrecy and back story so i immediately looked into it and when i learned how little has been written, i really thought this is going to be a great book. >> host: as a science geek somebody that has known about this for some time, we will talk for those of you that don't know what he should say for clarity's sake at one point it is darpa to keep it consistent and as we will talk about tonight there are some innovations we use in our everyday lives that is a result of the proper research, so when the book came out there has to be a book about dark and there hasn't been major work on this level i wanted to go to the
order and why it really comes about and a little bit about what it is in the organization so it's different than a lot of the other military research organizations in that the military research organization in this sense doesn't really do scientific research and we talk little bit about how it is formulated. >> there's approximately 120 program managers and almost its entire existence working with a 3 billion-dollar budget and yet these individuals themselves are scientists, engineers at the top of their game so they go out into the field yet academic laboratories or other military laboratories and they put together teams that bring forth this incredible science and technology and that creates an entire industry. >> we will talk about those because they are incredibly important. you said 1958, and i think that as he is dorian there is a
significant reason that was formed. what caused the united states government and the agency like this? >> i've been up to the scene of the explosion of the thermonuclear bomb in the marshall islands this massive 15-megaton explosion. four years before this forum but i do think it's important to know the reason why darpa was formed and that was initially to defend against this weapon in essence which there is no defense against and that brings us to the heart of the idea of the military-industrial complex and the idea that we must always be supreme we must have these incredible weapons to stay ahead of the enemy and yet at the same time as the knowledge the end it would have that same technology and so we must be on to the next
and that is to give and take that we are talking about. specifically when sputnik was launched and that whatever was launched, that long-range long-range missile could carry a nuclear warhead to the united states and that gave birth to darpa. the idea is we must never again be taken by technological surprise and it is amazing that in all the years since, darpa has always kept america in the physician, kept us the strongest. there has never been an undertaking of american science and technology in terms of weaponry. >> there may be some in the audience that are of more wise age but remember the fear of nuclear war that during the 1950s and the fear that even tripled out into the seismic world. this is a period where they help build the american atomic bomb
because they speak out against the hydrogen bomb into the idea that the soviets could overtake just about any day the missile gaps and everything else when in many ways you have to stay ahead technologically. >> here's an interesting detail one of the first things he did as the director was determined and i don't think that this had been reported before i founded and the file actually was that they had been calculated the exact number of seconds to get from the soviet union to washington, d.c.. it's an astonishingly short time and it is 1,600 seconds, that's it. that hasn't changed and so in essence of the threats that were there that are still there now. >> so enter a person most people haven't heard of who was the secretary defends, very important secretary of defense but before that you do a great
job of laying out his personality and a little bit. those like mcnamara come from the academia statisticians were those like paul. he wasn't in this role before he became secretary of defense. you even try to lay him out as a pr guru that understood how to do brand management. talk little bit about that. she was a leading guy in the advertising department and he was in charge of those competing with one another and they thought how are we going to sell more? at play during the soap operas and then he became secretary of defense in a very powerful one at that. >> that comes in handy because one of the first things you have to do it isn't something that's very power doubled the military agencies and atomic energy commissions and other organizations.
>> there was serious pushback from the military agencies into some of these old documents. they would meet with the individual heads to convince them that it was a great idea. they said that specifically stated the moon is just higher ground and then the admirals in the navy were saying no, no it should be our territory because where the notions and become a space start and so everybody had a reason why they wanted to control space which is how it came to be. >> what fascinates me about this time. though is that even sometimes the scientists don't know what they've created. it was a much larger explosion
than was expected and i focus on the manhattan project they had no idea whatsoever that it was going to work and they were taking bets and and what it sets the atmosphere on fire and not work at all and the great story you talk about here. this is an anecdote that is wonderful. at the top of the world near the air force base about 15 miles north. we can watch for the ballistic missile radar early warning site there was a fellow named jean who was an electronics technician and believe that the way that he described it to me is the job was 90% boredom and a
10% terror. one of the first things that happened, the site had only been open a few days. the site is connected directly and there was this idea of level number one, level number two, number three, number five. but it started if you were to get a notice that something was detected and into the little one and they would usually go away but the notice came in on level number three and by the time the operator was on the phone with the joint chiefs of staff it had escalated to level number five which meant 99.9% certainty we were under attack by a thousand. someone picked up the phone and what was determined into the reason i think it's important to talk a lot about humans versus computers because these were
very early computers and one of them in the mix said wait a minute. someone said he's in new york city banging his shoe at the un and then there was the moment where everyone said it must be a mistake and in fact there was a mistake and what someone at the site said let's someone look outside and of course there was a giant moon coming up over norway and so this radar system actually worked better. it was supposed to detect the missiles up to 3,000 feet and actually read the reflection of the new the moon accorded a million moon accorded a million miles away and bounced back and forth so many times those were the thousands that were not coming. >> here we focus on the aspects of intelligence.
darpa was in the intelligence satellites that were put into space because one of the fundamental jobs was the early satellite program and some people may know about it as the first american satellite that was inherited from the air force and remember we saw that program to fruition. and the idea of the imagery satellites. and ucd is you see these starting to leak into the world a little bit. i'm i am not going to screw up the acronym of the satellite program that this is the first true. >> he was so amazed and by that time they had inherited that satellite program that they started but these were these amazing images i think 79 days only they were very short-lived and it took something like 23,000 photographs of the earth of the earth and in a world
where we always see so much, imagine back at idea that these were the first image is and they were beautiful and eisenhower spoke about and i write about he said what it looked like over egypt and over the st. lawrence river he could see the whole world in these paragraphs and he spoke to the nation about it for a great pride and then they became a national geographic spread but it was a really interesting time and not that long ago in the big picture of things when we could first see things from space. >> you mentioned in the very beginning of the conversation that the -- they used the scientists in the country to round up the top people and this started from the very beginning that but have a very particular
name because to me this is something that people just don't know about the amount of influence they had over the american foreign policy still have today over american foreign policy is pretty extraordinary and the first he invented something very important to it but can you talk about what they do and how their job has continued until today? >> it began in 1960 as a group referred to by the government handlers as the superman of hard science. they were astrophysicists, they were nuclear physicists. they hand tackled all the hard problems and immediately when it was founded the idea was we need
exactly as you said we needed the best guys with the biggest lines in for a while, his only customer i have had the great fortune of interviewing a fellow who is the presidential science advisor into the cofounder i write about him in the book but it was interesting hearing his perspective we interviewed in 2013 and like his long lens of history working on these projects going back to the 60s they are so misunderstood as being these kind of some people consider them to be the illuminati in terms of taking up these ideas but i actually found from reading the reports and interviewing some of them that they were very cautious in their work and they were also full-time academics and part time scientists said they would
only gather in the summers and discuss these problems the secretary of defense would put to them and say sort this out. >> it was the difficult ones nobody else could figure out that they were handed and amazingly the track record is pretty spectacular. >> the unclassified documents that you can read are one thing thing to the classified documents, some of the names of the documents have been declassified but when you read them you realize i couldn't understand that even if it was declassified. it is such hard science. >> it comes of age and a lot of ways they are traveled by fire in this respect. and a lot of the things that are looked at him if he is non- had gone as being potentially problematic about the war were
things they tried to get rid of order that they were the cause in some respects they were the first ones to appreciate the idea of trying to defeat a insurgency with technology that is the was the primary focus was the high-tech counterinsurgency strategies. can you talk about this using the sociology and anthropology? >> guest: it was interesting time and many things came out of it they were working on as you say soft science programs and they are working on conventional weapons. they lead to stealth technology but the one that i found the
most impactful is that center technology. the trail was the dreaded problem of the pentagon and all of the fighters and insurgents that come from the north to the south by way of the trail and the secretary of defense cast them with figuring out a way to stop this. they solve is almost like it was a humanity needed to have its arteries severed and the scientists in a lot of the documents spoke about it that way. it was like that was the locus and so they tried, they thought about nuclear weapons and that wasn't an option. then this idea of defense the reasons i write about this and i find it so interesting to explore is because all the technology which by the way have come from the development program that you referred to, magnetic sensors, these were
incredibly early ideas during the vietnam war and now they make up so much of our existence i'm sure driving here somebody's windshield wipers just started to work that is essentially technology that goes back the way that i see it to the sensors that they were working on. >> and the technology is still used in the intelligence agency and civilian practice one of us drove over one of the fingers on the ground to determine how fast we are doing and anything else like that. the vietnam is also a time they began to investigate the more questionable technologies. agent orange is one of these technologies of things that i find very interesting. some are outside of the box thinking about winning the war through changing the ability of the vietnamese and moving the
weapons. >> they were and continue to be at the cutting edge of science and this is an agency that's working at the problem 25 years. it's spoken of as a pre- required research and that takes us back to that idea of the military-industrial complex is one of the directors who spoke to congress after the vietnam war when they got into trouble by congress saying you are making weapons we don't need and in this point he called it the chicken and the egg problem and said listen, if the need for the weapon system comes along and we haven't already developed if there is a real problem and that is the chicken and the egg problem. >> i want to talk about civilian use of some of the technologies developed because this is where the audience that hadn't heard before would say that's where that's from so let's start with who is jc are?
stomaching is referred to as the johnny appleseed of the internet. he really is the man who is responsible for what we have today as the internet technology used by almost half the people on the planet and that began as in project into the internet was originally called and they came to the pentagon when in 1962 congress decided there was a really big technology problem and if you can imagine the idea of a red phone that was the technology that president kennedy and khrushchev have to use to make that clear decision and mindful that their 1600 seconds until doomsday. imagine wasting 30 seconds trying to dial a rotary phone and so the pentagon said we need a command and control and they
came specifically to work on these very hard problems and he was a really eccentric thinker. he was going to have all of these computers that spoke to each other and were tied together and everyone said we are going to command and control the leader of coarse this materialized. >> people have gone back and looked at some of the writings and essentially heat addicts cloud computing in his earliest writings. again this is similar to talking about artificial intelligence. it's hard not to talk about this not only for the internet that computer model pioneer in how a lot of the data systems are used to create models for everything from the wargames in weather patterns in everything else. can you talk a little bit about that as well?
>> guest: any people do not know that about him and he did have -- i often wonder what his intentions were. but at the same time he was involved in one of the more controversial programs in the vietnam war that have to do with behavior modeling with computers and so the new computer systems over in thailand at the information centers were gathering information based on these ideas. >> the idea that down the road we could attract these individuals and find them and follow them and see how they wound up and this gets into very awkward territory i think for the pentagon today having to deal with surveillance programs because they do link to one
another. we have meal cosby today after the internet idea came around that computers were incredibly helpful and that they could be used for a training tool and so jack had this idea of creating an old sand table to have the generals make ideas that can be computerized and this is profound thinking and also he wasn't clear at that point so it is an impression of him and it eventually became a program wired magazine referred to as the father of cyberspace in essence because the civilian technology that everyone knows today and that everyone's children in the audience probably works on and plays
these games they find their origin in the program that jack and neal cosby ended up running through the generals at the pentagon did want to play those games and throw a little stealth into the equation. >> at all the way down to ground level i was in the army tanker with other people or of the country working together. are there other civilian technologies. it's a civilian use for the couple of those technologies. >> gps is amazing and one thing that they do so well and this has to do from the engineers i spoke so many of them almost all of them are incredibly gung ho
and they talk about how they find the solutions to things and allow a scientist to push in a way that maybe the industry bosses would allow them to because it might not seem like such a good idea but the thinking of the future makes the future happened but another thing they do is, this is in the spirit of how eisenhower created or or solve his initial idea is that it would cut out the rival gps being a great example of that over generally in the program they lost to the satellites and then in the 70s the navy started having its own gps program and so did the air force and then the orders came from the pentagon and said wait a minute this isn't working the way that it showed should as one system for all the agencies and so they were put back on the program and then alternately they created a system which is the gps that we have today.
>> there was a detail i didn't know that was working away and we'll didn't know about we all didn't know about it or use it and it had a little feature because it was a targeting idea and that is what the military application was that it had a feature called selective availability and someone in europe or asia could very easily hack into the system. the pentagon didn't want them to know for targeting reasons how close it was so they created 100 or a 150-cent offset and then in the early '90s building towards the late '90s, europe started developing gps and said we are going to create an industry and the then president clinton made the system public and got rid of the future and because america could greatly benefit from having the technology so now we all have a gps that have been around for quite some time. >> i didn't know about it
either. i was in the military before clinton took away the future if we always wondered why we couldn't use the gps. they were much smaller even at the time which is what we call the big military gps. let's move a little bit into the period i think the things that we have used to see everywhere on the battlefield over their existence in many ways to darpa and things like stealth technology and laser guided munitions. it's something that we here at the spy music and pay a lot of attention to and it's about how some of the current military technology is because of this agency. >> darpa is about the brilliance and the incredible estimations
about these incredible programs and pushing science and so one must ask questions about where we are now so this is a decade-old technology and mindful of that idea that we are always ahead when they hit the battlefield in afghanistan we were the only nation that had armed drones and now 186 nation is have armed drones so the predator is obsolete in some regards. so the question is what's next. that idea moving information technology, which we didn't have time to discuss and i write about at length in the book, the art of making things small what i learned from unclassified pentagon documents is the agency is moving or rather the pentagon is moving towards autonomous
warfare. that is the plan for 25-years-old and that is the idea of the self-governance in the way the pentagon views as a four-part step and we start with remote control, we move towards governance. and so this gets into some heady territory because there are questions about ethics and robots that can do things without an operator in the loop but these are certainly places where the technology is taking us. >> and if they have their way in 25 years the human battlefield will not be fully human and the project they are working on if i use the word site for an interface is these are things that ten years ago are in the run with science fiction and are becoming a true where and truer
every day. >> well, they use the word bio hybrid and that is an idea where you couple animals with machines and darpa has already been able to do that with the electrodes in the brain being able to remotely control and now from the pentagon documents what is clear is that it's living humans in the military environment towards being comfortable with this idea of merging man and machine and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable and a lot of other people excited. it just depends where you fall on the lines of trans- humanism and the idea that essentially we can now create our own evolution and engineer our own evolution. >> it may sound like science fiction. one of the things he you talk about is the group that are actual science fiction writer that has been brought in to work to think about in some cases can
you talk a little bit about? >> yes, the pentagon loves science fiction writers and they are thinking right along the lines of, you know, the idea of the future. he invented the laser and won the nobel prize in 1964 and i wasn't getting many answers from present people at the pentagon they are highly classified i had a discussion with towns who was still giving interviews age 98 at his office in berkeley but he told me that the way he got the idea for inventing the laser is now considered one of the most important technologies in the present day for military and civilian use but the way that he got the idea was way back in 1926 when he was a little boy in
that reading a science fiction book. >> absolutely. it has to be concerned at some level about the influence of these billions and billions of dollars being spent. you talk in your book about the idea that people that are pulling many of the science boards or engineers from boeing and lockheed martin and the industry is that something we should be concerned about or something that has changed in any way in the beginning or much
when i went to interview a program manager responsible for a lot of this trans- humanism early program, and we were discussing the program, moving men commemorate man machine. they had canceled the pentagon that it was a bad idea. that is the scientists it could be the human. i was told, the group that has become more important, the defense science board, the pentagon think tank, the
president, very knowledgeable superman of science what is also true full-time academic and part-time defense scientists , the defense science board members as was explained how defense contractors and stillstood on the boards of a lot of these defense contractors which raises the question that eisenhower raised, not me, which is let's make sure that the citizenry maintains and knowledge that they are aware of what the military-industrial complex is planning to do. >> in that same speech he warned about the scientific technological. we are going to open it up to questions from you. please raise your hand. we will have microphones coming around that can be
picked up by the cameras. [inaudible question] >> yes, it's a great question. the place where i observed i observed that had to do with the situation in the role on terror in iraq where they created a program a program called combat zone fatigue. the idea was to use that advance sensor technology was the vietnam electronic fences now the combat zone. their multi- combat angle drones, overhead sensors on the ground to get an idea of this urban warfare environment which is so difficult to defend against,
and from what i understand, the pentagon does not follow the google maps model and send contractors into the field to map the territory, the very similar to how google maps had done. >> up here, amanda. >> thank you so much. >> that's a great question. in all of my research i did not come across any of the paperclip scientists which by no means means they were not they're because there are so many and they were so
involved in many of these programs, but that is a great question. you stumped me. >> there were foreigners who worked with darpa, not, you know, natural born americans. they did not have any kind of discrimination against people born other countries,in other countries, people who had worked for the manhattan project and other places as well. >> am going to change that because there is one name that did come across kaman stigler. >> back there, amanda. >> hi. when you go back to the brain implant programming, what about the use of robots? is a military thinking of that 1st 1 i guess they have to think of everything at the same time. they are outs and other markets in parts of the world. when will they implement them on the battlefield?
how much will human -- how much will there be a human need to control that? >> well, therewell, there are so many darpa robots in place presently. you can go to the website and see these amazing videos. they crawl, walk, climb, can fall over and get back up. hair up in space, this big. there is robotic across every military service and certainly the pentagon plans of unmanned warfare through 2038 indicating this movement, as i was saying, that has forced the movement from remove control to governance. >> a lot of the place where people may have heard the name darpa which happens every year. now it has become this massive thing.
mark'smark's projections a greater public sector, technology, distribution. >> we talked about two of them, the internet and gps. if you mean specifically how they just say now it's out there, from what i understand it is a decision like clinton and gore and then they decide who will make the announcement and someone does. it is a few phone calls.
>> you said this in your talk, when other countries have established this technology by themselves, it is no longer something that needs to stay classified. no need to keep the program classified anymore. >> over there. >> from my understanding of talking individuals. >> and the goes both ways and has much that -- aa couple of different programs in the book where you have a team, the program that darpa
guys went in which a sock in afghanistan, unclear about how that actually worked. but most definitely cooperation. >> with all these interesting ideas, where -- what is your next book going to be? since it seems that one week to the next, your next books out of all of this effort. >> keep it a little under the sleeve. one thing i can say is i love writing about how the agency and military intelligence work together.
there is this idea that they don't. next book involves a program that was cia and dia. >> that is more than i would've told. >> so many programs you will never know. >> you could've had been. >> one over there. >> a lot of people who, you know, were experienced in positions in government before and after darpa. can you talk about darpa as a generator for senior managers and dod. speaks to how important
science and technology is at the pentagon. he can directly from livermore and was there at age 24. and then when he went to the pentagon he was the person to whom all of the darpa people reported to during the vietnam war and then in 1977 he became secretary of defense created a really important concept that i read about in the book. after they allowed the us military to dominate and gulfin gulf war one which was all science and technology driven.
>> back over there. >> and you alluded to the linkages. in your researchin your research did you run across any instances where darpa benefited from espionage for providing this season of later research or suffer from espionage where they have got the good stuff and other people want access to it? >> that is a great question. i don't know. i do know any other way they are incredible interplay's. these programs are so interwoven.
one interesting interview i did because the cia has its own darpa. i interviewed identity someone who was involved. in presenting the idea of the congress and what he told me was that the intelligence community was very much wowed. they model themselves after darpa. >> almost taking them back to their core. just putting out contracts in contracts in contracts are people to bid on the ability to do advanced quantum computing that were so whizbang at five years ago no one was thinking that way.
taking it to the next level of saying we want people thinking 30 or 40 years down the road. >> would you tell us a bit more about how they are organized, how long your there, the deployment process. >> as i said, generally 120 program managers. usually peopleusually people stay where it is sort of the way that it is said five years. we have someone in the audience who has been there for decades. that is the structure as with all of these agencies the information that has given is often only part of the story. we know it's very much for your red tape.
now make things themselves. themselves. a farmer all out. elastin this flexibility, but they have an awfully large building that not many reporters get into. >> back over there. >> i. you can see how many of the programs are trying to defend against cyber warfare. it is interesting that perhaps the only vulnerability i have ever heard the pentagon speak of is cyber warfare. in other warfare. in other words, the pentagon is clear that we have the supremacy everywhere but cyber warfare is an enormous threat.
superiority of the us? do you think that they still have the edge in essence? >> i am sure that darpa has the edge. they have incredible satellite programs including one that is launching satellites. the whole idea what is happening in space very similar to what it was back in 1958. more important satellite technology. says their job is to keep innovation safe and technological, one can only imagine how much they are looking up. >> they always worked with private companies as part of their organizational structure.
so we don't know necessarily of a private company is getting technological advantages on there own work your money. so i don't think we will ever be told, no, my kids one -- my no one day about it. any final questions? >> i always enjoy reading the acknowledgments section of the book. i am curious about your product to have you have to identify sources. >> i always loved talking to scientists and engineers who work on these programs. i write about the seeming the impenetrable subjects. and i carry with me an idea that goes back to the book,
scientists named ed levick who worked with richard careful, the cia, the pioneer in space and surveillance. levick told me two things. fortune favors the prepared mind. always on top of your information and keep current about things that are interesting, people essentially gravitate toward you to share their stories. he also told me to look up. these supermen of science whether it's bathroom birds within the cosmos, the answer lies above. and what he was also saying was go higher up. he told me that someone at the source doesn't want to talk to you it's probably that they are too low down
and cannot and seek out there boss. and i have found in this way that i find wonderful and inspiring an important that the greatest mind, the scientists and engineers of the world, people who have knowledge and information they've been. darpa press office is not going to give me information. i think that is the wonderful thing about when you get old and you look back on your life and so many of these older sources do. what can i share with my country that ii have spent so much time, you know, dedicating my life to. >> was discredited by the pentagon? >> i am a journalist, a
civilian. >> we tends to have a lot of exigency types here and go through lots of hurdles before they do anything. it is a knee-jerk question for me. look at this. yes. right down here. >> in the latter part of the book you write about a fear among some of the robots taking over and we lose control. having been through this now for three or four years, do you share that? >> i -- here is what i think. having in the book with the idea that scientists created a weapon against which they're is no defense. two of the scientists both
wrote to the president of the united states congress weapon should not be made. it is an evil thing. that is what they called it. they fear that there would be no defense against it. we have lived all of these decades with sort of ii hope it does not happen, and it has not. but we are and a parallel situation now in my mind and also the minds of many scientists i interviewed his think about this question, should we be afraid of artificial intelligence. the idea is an overwhelming majority that that to could be a weapon against which they're is no defense and therefore the image must be a place. and so my fear comes from a shared concern that comes from very smart individuals.
>> very, very smart. in the last questions? >> hello and good evening. thank you for your time. in regard to the military-industrial complex, what are your thoughts on how citizens can say well informed so that the power of state balance and things does not go awry? >> do exactly what you are doing. just by participating. so much is out there. i think just maintaining a knowledgeable basis gives